Archive - April 2010

1
Melanie Sumner (Senegal 1988-90) Writes Again!
2
Mad Man Charlie Peters Comes To Washington, Part Two
3
New Novel Cites Peace Corps Books In Research
4
Mad Man Charlie Peters Comes To Washington, Part One
5
Mad Man Character Actor: Jules Pagano
6
Ken Hill Remembers Michael Sher
7
Best Writer at the Agency
8
Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) Selected As New York Public Library Fellow For 2010
9
Mad Men Novelist At The Peace Corps: Doug Kiker
10
Seeking French Speakers for Overseas Positions with Peace Corps

Melanie Sumner (Senegal 1988-90) Writes Again!

Melanie Sumner (Senegal 1988–90)  published a wonderful collection of stories entitled Polite Society back in 1995 that are all set in Africa where she was a PCV. Next she wrote a novel,  The School of Beauty and Charm in 2002. Now she is back again with a new book, The Ghost of Milagro Creek. It will be published in July of this year. Melanie is a character worthy of her own novel. She received a BA in religious studies in 1986 from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (where she studied with the late author Max Steele) and an MFA in creative writing in 1987 from Boston University. From 1988 to 1990 she was  in Senegal, and then she  lived in Alaska, New Mexico and Provincetown. She currently teaches creative writing at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Her first book, Polite Society,  won the Whiting Award, a regional award from Granta, and from PeaceCorpsWriters the . . .

Read More

Mad Man Charlie Peters Comes To Washington, Part Two

Charlie Peters was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and enlisted in the Army in ’44. He was an infantryman until he broke his back in a training accident. Discharged, he enrolled himself in Columbia and earned a B.A. in humanities and an M.A. in English, then he went onto get a law degree at Virginia, got married, and returned to West Virginia and went to work in his father’s law firm. From that launching point, he was appointed clerk of the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee, and in 1960, was elected to the House as a Democrat. When he went to work for the Peace Corps in 1961 it was with the idea of staying only three months, and then returning to the politics of West Virginia. But this is what happened instead.   Kenny O’Donnell had called Shriver and told him about Peters. Shriver called Moyers and told him that the word on . . .

Read More

New Novel Cites Peace Corps Books In Research

In August a book comes out entitled Rich Boy, written by Sharon Pomerantz, a graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA program who now teaches writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It is a ‘novel of class, money, and love–spanning four decades in the life of a young man determined to escape his past.” It took Pomerantz ten years to write. She is not an RPCV, but there is a Peace Corps connection. (There is always a Peace Corps connection!)  The connection with RPCV writers is that in Ms. Pomerantz acknowledgements she mentions two Peace Corps books she used in her research, Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle by Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67) and P. David Searles (CD/Philippines 1971-74; PC/W 1974-76) The Peace Corps Experience: Change and Challenge, 1969-1976. David is one of our bloggers as you may know. The “Peace Corps” connection, however, is slight in this novel that the publisher (TWELVE) says on . . .

Read More

Mad Man Charlie Peters Comes To Washington, Part One

We all know Kennedy’s line how success has a thousand fathers, and failure is an orphan. We know, too, those of us who follow those early years of the Peace Corps, that everyone who was there at the beginning, in one way or the other, winks and whispers, ‘well, if it wasn’t for me….’ The truth is that the backbone of the Peace Corps creation was Warren Wiggins and Bill Josephson and their ‘Towering Task’. That paper gave Shriver the spear he needed to carry. Harris Wofford was the philosopher/king of the Peace Corps, with his grand vision for the agency and the Volunteers. (Charlie Peters once said to me that everyday Wofford had a thousand new ideas and 999 of them were worthless, but the one good idea left was brilliant!) We know, too, that Bill Moyers with his connection to LBJ saved the Peace Corps from being part of AID, . . .

Read More

Mad Man Character Actor: Jules Pagano

Jules Pagano was not a Mad Man, though he could have played one on the t.v. show. Yes, he smoked. (God, they all smoked! And drank! And screwed around, but that’s another story.) No, Jules was more of a character actor than a Leading Man at the early Peace Corps and spent his years there as  Chief of the Division of Professional and Technical Affairs. (Yes, Virginia, they did have stupid titles like that back in the ’60s.) Jules had a breezy, laid-back, amusing, and charming persona. He was like great poetry: there was more than one level of meaning to Jules. And like any good union organizer (which he had been) he held his cards close to his chest. If anyone could draw to an inside straight, it was Jules Pagano. I knew Jules best for a short period in the spring of 1965 when he organized the unions . . .

Read More

Ken Hill Remembers Michael Sher

Ken Hill has had a long and impressive history with the Peace Corps. A PCV in Turkey back in 1965-67, he was on the HQ staff in DC from 1968-74, then CD in Russia Far East, and Bulgaria, and Macedonia from 1994-98; Chief of Operation in Europe and Asia, 1999-2000. He served at HQ again in 2001 as the Chief of Staff, and was head of the National Peace Corps Association from 2004-06. Today, he is retired but spends some of his time on the Board of Directors of Friends of Turkey. In the summer of 2002 he organized the first Peace Corps Staff Reunion that honored Sarge Shriver. It was one of Sarge’s last public appearances. Here is a photograph from that event, it is Sarge speaking to the hundred of staffers who came back to the Women’s Museum to thank the man that made it all possible. One of the people . . .

Read More

Best Writer at the Agency

While Doug Kiker might have a good claim to be ‘our’ first novelist at the Peace Corps, in my opinion, the finest writer was not all the hot-shots up on the 11th floor, in the Evaluation Division, or with the Public Information Office,  but it was William W. Warner, Executive Secretary for Shriver. Warner was one of those quiet guys who didn’t draw much attention. But in 1977, years after his Peace Corps job, Warner won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his first book, Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay, which was based on his experiences living and working among crab fishermen on the Chesapeake. In many ways, he represented the sheer ‘talent’ that came to the agency in those first years. He had a first class mind, had vast experience, and a wealth of knowledge. Here in somewhat short-hand detail is Warner’s history and training when he began to work for . . .

Read More

Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) Selected As New York Public Library Fellow For 2010

The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers this month selected its twelfth class of Fellows: fourteen exceptional creative writers, independent scholars, and academics. The Fellows, will have full access to the unparalleled research collections and online resources of The New York Public Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. They will be in residence at the Center from September 2010 through May 2011, pursuing a wide range of book projects that will make extensive use of the Library’s holdings. One of the Fellows is our own Mike Meyer (China 1995-97) winner of the Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award in 2009 for his first book The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed which depicts the capital’s oldest neighborhood as the city remade itself for the 2008 Olympics. Also a Lowell Thomas Award winner for travel . . .

Read More

Mad Men Novelist At The Peace Corps: Doug Kiker

If there was one HQ staffer who could have walk straight onto the set of the current hit, Mad Men, is was Doug Kiker of Griffin, Georgia. Kiker was the original “mad man”  in his brief time at the Peace Corps during those early days when he was chief of the division of public information. He would leave the Peace Corps in 1963 for the New York Herald Tribune, and on his first week on that job, he was  riding in the press bus in the motorcade with JFK when the president was assassinated.  By 1966, he was with NBC News as an on-air reporter and he would remain with that network for the rest of his life. He died of a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 61. Kiker came from the south, from Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, majoring in English and wanting to be a writer. His first . . .

Read More

Seeking French Speakers for Overseas Positions with Peace Corps

 [A good friend forwarded this announcement that came to his wife’s listserv. (She speaks French; he only knows Amharic!) The announcement was in the newsletter of  Alliance Francaise in Washington, D.C.  I thought some of the ‘French speaking RPCVs’ would want to know about it. [An aside: One nagging complaint that I always have is the Peace Corps agency still continues to not use the article ‘the’ for ‘Peace Corps’….I think it goes back to the Nixon years when the Republicans were attempting to show that they could save money by eliminating articles from proper government names. Not sure about that; just a guess. Aaron, do us all a favor, put the “the” back in THE Peace Corps!] April 5, 2010   Peace Corps is one of the most successful and respected service agencies in the world. Established in 1961 by President Kennedy, nearly 200,000 Volunteers have served in 139 countries since its inception. . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2019. Peace Corps Worldwide.